The Austrian Art of Starvation as depicted by Anna Mitgutsch and Helene Floess

Bagley, Petra Maria orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0565-8883 (2017) The Austrian Art of Starvation as depicted by Anna Mitgutsch and Helene Floess. In: Starvation, Food Obsession and Identitiy: Eating Disorders in Contemporary Women's Writing. Studies in Contemporary Women's Writing, 6 . Peter Lang, Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt on Main, New York, Vienna, pp. 45-64. ISBN 978-3-0343-2200-3

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The abuse of food by young women is often an expression of the need for attention as well as a form of self-punishment in psychological and physiological terms. This chapter focuses on how contemporary Austrian authors, Anna Mitgutsch and Helene Flöss, raise awareness of eating disorders by exploring the issues of family and social pressures through two fictional accounts, namely Die Züchtigung [Punishment] (1985) and Dürre Jahre [The Lean Years] (1998). In the former I explain the impact of an abusive mother on the sexual underdevelopment of her daughter; in the latter I illustrate how a young girl’s obsession with the desire to be thin has nearly fatal consequences. In doing so, I revisit the hunger artists of old and show how these modern female bodies can successfully break free from their ‘cage’, when a supportive environment provides a possible path to recovery.

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